The Church has weathered two totalitarian regimes. I think it important to read at least a short history of each of these trials of the Church.
For the Church’s response to Islam, I will be reviewing Alexander Schmemann’s book ‘The Historical Road of Eastern Orthodoxy’ in a broad context.
For the Church’s response to Tudor hegemony, I will be reviewing Evelyn Waugh’s book ‘Edmund Campion: A Life’.
In both cases, I’ll be reading the books from a rather different perspective than the authors probably intended. Hence these will not be general book reviews. When I say The Church you should know that I have a Lenny Bruce ecclesiology: “The Catholic Church is the Church we mean when we say The church” and that I’m a member of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, in particular.
When reading history, it is important to also consider what is being left out. This is particularly true for Schmemann’s book given how broad of an historical period and geographic region he covers. The first chapter, focusing on the 1st and 2nd century, emphasises the important roots within Judaism and how early ecclesial structures developed. The second chapter covers the very interesting, and very complex, 4th century. For me, Schmemann has just the right amount of detail here, both about the period itself and regarding various modern opinions about the events within Christendom of that period.
(to be continued)